Could robotics be Amazon’s next big growth engine?


Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) recently announced a new series of consumer products and among them was a $ 999 robotic dog, among several other cool devices. In this fool live Video clip, recorded September 30, contributors Brian Withers and Matt Frankel, CFP, discuss the role – if any – robotics could play in Amazon’s growth.

Brian Withers: Amazon had an interesting day yesterday, they made some announcements and I would say they are officially in the robotics business. They start off with a robot dog named what other than Astro, this thing is so cute. They have an indoor Ring Camera that flies like a drone around the house, their Echo Show 15. It’s basically the computer in the kitchen that keeps track of all the family activities, it’ll be interesting to see if this version actually takes off.

Amazon Glow, a visual projection device that allows children to interact in a virtual reality environment, and an inflated Alexa, called Alexa Together to help seniors live independently by staying in touch with their families. They also did a fitness group update. For me, the robot dog stole the show. It’s $ 999, so it’s not cheap, and think of it as an Alexa on wheels with a Ring Camera that you can also access when you’re away from home. Reminders, music, a way to store items for delivery. He can follow you everywhere.

Just a fun little thing, and I think the possibilities here are just beginning. But the whole idea, it’s pretty clear to me that these announcements are all about building an ecosystem around their Ring devices and security services so that they can get a monthly subscription, and beware that these vices will learn and get smarter over time as well.

Matt Frankel: For a $ 999 robot dog, you can buy a lot of Kindle, Echos, and Ring devices.

Withers: Yes.

Frankel: Do you see robotics as a big seller or just a novelty to get attention?

Withers: I think he has half a chance of becoming something really worth it. If you remember the first iPhone, I meant it was $ 699 or $ 799. It was an outrageous price at the time. If you had one today, no one would buy it. Due to the first of its kind he caused a stir, but there really wasn’t much he did. He only had the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) apps on it, and it was super, super slow.

The company is likely to have low expectations for Astro. But once these get into the hands of consumers, for me the real work starts with updating the software to make Astro more usable, and I imagine that over time the price will drop as well, this which will make it more interesting for more households.

Frankel: I’m actually surprised that they’re priced that high because Amazon is usually willing to take a loss of material to get into as many homes as possible.

Withers: They could still very much suffer a loss on this.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.


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